Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Inoculation for anxiety and depression

Inoculation for anxiety and depression

So, you may not have been able to get the swine flue vaccine, but here is a “vaccine” that is widely available:

You have heard it many times from many different sources that exercise is good for you. But just in case the connection between exercise and mental health is not clear, let me attempt to make it transpicuous:

The research is coming out of Princeton University and the results were presented at the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago. The research team working with mice found that exercise did not just produce a temporary good mood in the mice, but it actually altered the brain of the mice that had been put through an exercise program. Exercise actually created new brain cells that remained calm under the stress that the mice were exposed to subsequently. The brains of the mice that had been exercised were biochemically and
molecularly calmer under stress!

Parallel research in the University of Colorado presented data showing that moderate exercise dampens the effects of oxidative stress (anxiety in mice and people has been shown to be linked with excessive oxidative stress).
The Colorado team showed that mice that had been exercised prior to been exposed to severe stress did not run and hide in corners like the unexercised mice but rather they actively explored their surrounding. Exercise inoculated brain cells and created neuronal pathways to handle toxic stress.

These changes did not happen overnight. It appears that in both studies effects started after 6 weeks. And although we do not know exactly what the timing will be with humans, one lesson seems to be clear to everyone: “don’t quit”. Reduction of stress may not happen after your first hour at the gym, but the molecular, biochemical changes will begin and will become evident with time.

So, here is my prescription/wish/ gift to you for this particular stressful time of the year:
Hit the gym, the treadmill the boardwalk and inoculate yourself.